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The last team standing

The journey to the top is top is complete.

The goal set at the beginning of the year has been accomplished.

Pike Liberal Arts School has another championship team.

Though it may not have been the prettiest way to win a title, the girls’ varsity squad was able to do so thanks it its 27-24 victory over the Gators of Glenwood Saturday morning in Roland Arena at Huntingdon College.

The Patriots shot just 25 percent from the floor, connecting on 10 of its 39 shots, while also committing 22 turnovers.

While PLAS had a hard time finding the basket, Glenwood had an even worse time, only shooting 11 percent from the floor, hitting six of its 53 attempts.

“You have to give a lot of credit to Glenwood,” head coach Steven Kilcrease said after the game.

“They played extremely well and forced us into a lot of tough situation – there was some worry towards the end of the game.

“We knew it was going to be a battle – I am extremely proud of this group of girls,” the coach added.

The Patriots were able to jump out to a five-point lead after the first quarter of play, leading 10-5.

That would be the only time a team would score double-digits in a quarter in the game.

Though PLAS would never relinquish the lead, Glenwood came close to taking it several times throughout the game.

The Patriots were able to go into the half with a 16-9 lead, after holding the Gators to just four points in the second quarter – all of which came from the free throw line.

The two teams were a combined 3-23 from the floor, as Glenwood missed all 12 of its shots.

In the second half, the story remained the same as both teams struggled to score points.

PLAS was able to take a 10-point lead towards the middle of the third quarter, leading 22-12.

However, the team would not score again until four minutes into the fourth quarter – allowing the Gators to make a run, cutting the lead to four points.

“I think we came out of halftime a little too relaxed,” Kilcrease said.

“Glenwood did a great job of putting pressure on us – and we never really had an answer.”

With just under a minute to play, the Gators were able to cut the lead to a mere two points at 26-24.

Glenwood would miss four opportunities to tie the game with under 23 seconds remaining before Madison Sanders was able to grab a rebound and get fouled.

She would hit one of her free throws, for a three-point lead and in the process secured the state championship.

“This is an outstanding feeling,” Kilcrease said. “I am so proud of this team.”

“I think only one other team in school history has made it to the championship game, so to bring home the first state championship in basketball is very special.

“This team deserved it – they have worked hard the past three years,” he added.

Despite being committing more turnovers than scoring points in the second half, 15 to 11, the Patriots were able to hang on, thanks to the team’s ability to mix things up, according to the coach.

“We did a great job of rebounding the ball and defended well,” Kilcrease said.

“We sort of went against what we have been doing. Glenwood is a very athletic team, and we all knew that coming in.

“I told the girls before the game, this was not going to be easy,” Kilcrease said.

The Patriots didn’t celebrate alone.

PLAS fans made the 50 mile journey to Huntingdon College to be a apart of the championship moment.

“It was exciting [to have as big of a crowd as we did],” the coach said.

“We have had great support all week long from both students and the parents – and it is something the team is very thankful for.

“It really made for an exciting atmosphere,” Kilcrease said.

Rebecca Farrar was the only Patriot to score in double-digits with 10 points, adding 11 rebounds as well.

Eady Pinckard added seven points and 15 rebounds in the winning effort.

Anna Saunders and Katie Wiggins were named to the All-Tournament team, while Farrar was named the Most Valuable Player.

Click here for pictures from the game.